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Mesa teacher arrested for removing young girl’s shirt

PHOENIX — A Mesa kindergarten teacher was arrested Thursday on suspicion of removing a female kindergartner’s shirt in class, police said.

Thomas Washburn, 54, was teaching a kindergarten class at Adams Elementary School when a 6-year-old student became upset at him shouting at the class. The developmentally delayed student hid her face in her shirt.

When Washburn asked the student to take her face out of her shirt, she refused. He then allegedly removed her shirt — leaving her naked from the waist up — and did not allow her to put her shirt back on for about 10 minutes. She was eventually allowed to dress.

Washburn told the child’s mother what he had done at the end of the school day and she informed school officials, who in turn informed police.

Washburn was charged with child abuse and 25 counts of indecent exposure, one for each child in the room along with an adult aide.

A release from the school said Washburn was hired in 2006. He was placed on paid administrative leave after the charges were filed.